REVIEW: THE UNAUTHORISED STAR WARS STORY

CAST
Carrie Fisher (Family Guy)
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Jeremy Bulloch (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Michael Carter (The illusionist)
Anthony Daniels (Droids)
Garrick Hagon (Red 2)
Mark Hamill (The Flash)
Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
Ewan McGregor (Mortdecai)
 
The year was 1999. With the first new Star Wars film in 16 years on the verge of being released, Star Wars hype reached a crescendo of Star Destroyer like proportions. Amongst all the officially licensed merchandise this little documentary slipped right through Lucasfilm’s fingers. It’s so unauthorized, there aren’t even any credits. Just a bunch of stars and some music meant to invoke John Williams. Either this was an oversight or else they ran out of money, for there is a distinct lack of captions all the way through.
Most of the interviews here are drawn from press junkets held for the release of the Star Wars Special Editions in 1997.
Not only did they get access to George Lucas, Luke, Han and Princess Leia but also Threepio, Artoo, Chewie and Rick McCallum. All of this material looks very professional (although they had to blur out all the posters in the background for copyright reasons). Unfortunately it is interspersed with some interviews the documentary makers shot themselves, on video and without any prior knowledge of lighting direction. These include talks with head of publicity and former Lucas classmate Charles Lippincott and the actors who portrayed Biggs Darklighter, Boba Fett (sat at his home computer) and Bib Fortuna. The difference in quality between the press material and these home movies is enormous.
 

Obviously they could not use any shots from the beloved trilogy itself, but they did get permission to show bits of the 1930’s Flash Gordon serials, the ‘Forbidden Planet’ trailer and some amusing British and Japanese news items from 1977. Add to this some holiday movies from the filming locations in Tunisia and a few misty shots of San Fransico and Mann’s Chinese Theater in L.A. They even took a trip to Lucas’ Home town of Modesto (where they interview all his old neighbors) and at one point use a couple of lame computer animations of our own solar system. Everything is accompanied by silly wipes that resemble (but don’t sound like) Lightsabers and once, sliding Death Star doors. The lowest point comes when they attempt to illustrate behind the scenes stories by using a bunch of monster masks and the remote for some sort of toy car.Lets face it: this one is strictly for Star Wars collectors who positively have to have everything saga-connected in their possession.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH

 

CAST
Hayeden Christensen (Awake)
Natalie Portman (No Strings Attached)
Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Ian McDiarmid (Margaret)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
Jimmy Smits (Cane)
Frank Oz (Sesame Street)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (Game of thrones)
Ahmed Best (Poolboy)
Jay Laga’ala (Xena)
Bruce Spence (Mad Max 2)
Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors)
Oliver Ford Davies (Johnny English)
Peter Mayhew (Killer Ink)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Rena Owen (The Last Witch HUnter)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Wayne Pygram (Farscape)
Jeremy Bulloch (Starhyke)
Genevieve O’Reilly (THe Legend of Tarzan)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the best Star Wars movie in the prequel trilogy, hands down.

Objectively speaking, Revenge of the Sith’s greatest contribution to the Star Wars family is first and foremost the massive improvement of the quality of the visual effects. This film was released in 2005, and yet even today I have absolutely zero issues with any of the special effects, even in blu-ray format. They look stunning, detailed and realistic to the point of complete satisfaction. I think pretty much everyone can agree on this at least.

To me, Revenge of the Sith was a jaw dropping sci-fi movie from start till finish. I don’t remember any other science fiction film having action of this magnitude and scale going on in the history of film making. We are treated to probably the largest space battle ever shown in cinema when the film opens. This entire sequence, from Anakin and Obi-Wan fighting their way through the thick of battle to Count Dooku’s flagship all the way to them landing the damaged space ship on Coruscant, takes over half an hour and you’re completely engaged throughout.

The film then quietens down to politics and Anakin spending time with his wife Padme. Again, I never felt bored or checked my watch during these sequences as I felt they added much to the story, which is ultimately about Anakin’s fall. Now, a person who just watched this film might say Palpatine barely did anything to make Anakin turn to the Dark Side of the Force, and therefore all of this is a big disappointment. However, Anakin’s fall makes far more sense if you have recently watched The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Things that step by step shake his faith in the Jedi order are all strewn across these two films, which then culminate in the third. The initial rejection of the Jedi council to train young Anakin, the death of his mentor Qui-Gon, his romantic feelings for Padme despite his oaths of celibacy and detachment as Jedi, the lack of trust he gets from Mace Windu, Yoda and even Obi-Wan at times, the death of his mother Shmi and the visions that foretell the death of Padme in childbirth all contribute to him feeling confused, lonely and isolated – vulnerable for one particular Sith, who after all, had managed to not only fool the entire galactic senate, but also the Jedi order itself about being a good natured and harmless Chancellor. To blame troubled Anakin for buying into the deception of Palpatine, who had pretty much managed to deceive everyone else so far, would indeed be unfair.

The rest of the film is top notch. We are taken to many stunning locations that serve as backdrops for large scale battles, and General Grievous does a far better job of being an interesting antagonist than the stoic and almost vampiric Count Dooku did in Episode II. The film builds up in tension until it treats us to the greatest light saber duel in the entire series, bar none. Amazingly filmed by Steven Spielberg, who George Lucas allowed to be in charge of this part of the movie. The hellish landscape of Mustafar is a fitting place for such a titanic clash between Anakin and Obi-Wan, one that we had been waiting for so long and, I believe satisfied us all. The final portion of the film is spent tying up loose ends in the same fashion that the final section of Return of the King did – many short, disjointed scenes taking place in different locations, but necessary to complete the overarching narrative. There are some deleted scenes which I think could have been added to give this film the finishing touches it needed, but overall I am still very happy about the quality, presentation and entertainment Revenge of the Sith offers from start till finish.

Of course the end will leave a sour taste in your mouth since it isn’t a happy ending, but that was the whole point of the prequel trilogy, wasnt it – to explain how Darth Vader became Darth Vader and what led to the fall of the Republic and the creation of the totalitarian Galactic Empire. If you’re like me and watch the films in the order I to VI, you can sit back with satisfaction and anticipation after the conclusion of III, because the story will go on and we’re just getting started!

 

REVIEW: STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (2008)

CAST (VOICES)

Matt Lanter (Vampires Suck)
Ashley Eckstein (Ultimate Spider-Man)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Tom Kane (Transformers: Prime)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Anthony Daniels (Star Wars)
Nika Futterman (DC Super Hero Girls)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Catherine Taber (Curious George 2)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

Why No Love For The Seventh Star Wars Movie?

During the Clone Wars, Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi lead a small Republic clone army against the Separatist droid army on the planet Christophsis. Awaiting reinforcements, the two Jedi greet a shuttle carrying the young Jedi Ahsoka Tano, who insists that she has been assigned by Jedi Master Yoda to serve as Anakin’s Padawan. Anakin begrudgingly accepts Ahsoka’s apprenticeship, and the two succeed in deactivating the Separatists’ energy field while Obi-Wan stalls the droid army commander, allowing a Republic victory, which makes Ahsoka earn Anakin’s respect.
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Following the battle, Yoda arrives and informs the Jedi that crime lord Jabba the Hutt’s son Rotta has been kidnapped. Anakin and Ahsoka are tasked with retrieving the Huttlet, while Obi-Wan is sent to Tatooine to negotiate with Jabba over a potential treaty between the Hutts and the Republic. Anakin and Ahsoka find Rotta on the planet Teth, where they are ambushed by Separatist forces led by Count Dooku’s apprentice Asajj Ventress, discovering that Dooku hopes to frame the Jedi for Rotta’s kidnapping. The Jedi manage to escape the trap along with R2-D2 and hijack a derelict transport with which they travel to Tatooine. Obi-Wan, alerted by Anakin, arrives on Teth and defeats Ventress in a lightsaber duel, though she manages to escape.

Meanwhile, Senator Padmé Amidala, Anakin’s secret wife, learns of Anakin’s mission and fears for his safety. She decides to contact Jabba’s uncle Ziro in Coruscant. The Hutt refuses to cooperate, apparently believing that it is the Jedi who are responsible for the situation. Padmé, however, soon discovers that Ziro has actually conspired with Dooku to have Rotta killed in order for Jabba to have Anakin and Ahsoka executed in return, which will force the Jedi Council, led by Yoda, to take Jabba into custody and allow Ziro to seize power over the Hutt clans. Padmé is discovered and detained, but a chance call by C-3PO enables her to summon a squadron of clone troopers, and Ziro is arrested.
star-wars-the-clone-wars
Upon their arrival on Tatooine, Anakin and Ahsoka are shot down by MagnaGuards. Anakin devises a ruse to confront Dooku while carrying a decoy Rotta, leaving Ahsoka to take the real Rotta to Jabba’s palace. While Anakin fights off Dooku, Ahsoka is ambushed by the MagnaGuards, whom she defeats. The two deliver Rotta safely to Jabba, who nonetheless orders the Jedi’s execution for their supposed attempt to kidnap him. However, Padmé contacts Jabba in time and reveals Ziro and the Separatists’ responsibility for the kidnapping. Acknowledging the Jedi’s heroism and allowing the Republic to have Ziro punished for his betrayal, Jabba agrees to the Republic treaty while Anakin and Ahsoka are retrieved by Obi-Wan and Yoda. In the meantime during his escape, Dooku reports to his master Darth Sidious about the failure of their plot against the Jedi and Jabba, but the Sith Lord assures to him that the tide of war is still in their favor.

Lucasfilm Animation, director Dave Filoni, and screenwriter Henry Gilroy have crafted the perfect summer animated film, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, which is a more than adequate sequel to the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, set between Episodes II and III. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but left quite impressed with the quality of much of the animation. I was also surprised with the amount of screen time given to Count Dooku (voiced by Christopher Lee), as well as Samuel L. Jackson (General Mace Windu) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) (Daniels has now the distinction of appearing in every “Star Wars” film.).

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” captures successfully much of the excitement found in the original trilogy and in “Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”. Moreover, it offers more amazing battle sequences and light saber duels than seen in the live action films thanks to state-of-the-art animation technology. Where “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” fails is in some of its insipid dialogue, and the rather curious introduction of the inexperienced Ahsoka Tano as Anakin’s padawan (Jedi apprentice), who comes across more as a spoiled brat than a genuine Jedi warrior in training. And yet, with these few glaring defects, this remains a film which I can recommend highly to those who are diehard “Star Wars” fans and others seeking high quality cinematic entertainment that’s suitable for the entire family.

REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES

CAST

Hayden Christensen (Awake)
Natalie Portman (No Strings Attached)
Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
Frank Oz (Sesame Street)
Ian McDiarmid (Margaret)
Pernilla August (Search)
Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors)
Jimmy Smits (Cane)
Jack Thompson (Around The Block)
Ahmed Best (Poolboy)
Rose Byrne (The Voices)
Oliver Ford Davies (Johnny English)
Jay Laga’ala (Xena)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Rena Owen (The Last Witch HUnter)
Marton Csokas (Aeon Flux)

MV5BMTc0Mzc0MjQwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzE4Nzg1OQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Ten years after the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo, the Galactic Republic is threatened by a Separatist movement organized by former Jedi Master Count Dooku. Senator Padmé Amidala comes to Coruscant to vote on a plan to create an army of the Republic to assist the Jedi against this threat. Narrowly avoiding an assassination attempt upon arrival, she is placed under the protection of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker. The two Jedi thwart another attempt on her life and subdue the assassin, Zam Wesell, a shape-shifter who is killed by her bounty hunter client with a toxic dart before she can reveal his identity. The Jedi Council assigns Obi-Wan to identify and capture the bounty hunter, while Anakin is assigned to escort Padmé back to Naboo, where the two fall in love.
MV5BNzQ2Nzg5NDMwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTIwNTI4NA@@._V1_Obi-Wan’s investigation leads him to the remote ocean planet Kamino, where he discovers an army of clones is being produced for the Republic, with bounty hunter Jango Fett serving as their genetic template. Obi-Wan deduces Jango to be the bounty hunter he is seeking, and follows him and his clone son Boba to the desert planet Geonosis via a homing beacon placed on their ship, the Slave I. Meanwhile, Anakin becomes troubled by premonitions of his mother Shmi in pain, and travels to Tatooine with Padmé to save her. They meet Owen Lars, Anakin’s stepbrother who is the son of Shmi’s new husband Cliegg Lars. Cliegg tells Anakin that Shmi was abducted by Tusken Raiders weeks earlier and is most likely dead. Determined to find her, Anakin ventures out and finds the Tusken campsite. He discovers too late that his mother has been tortured by the tribe. As she dies from her wounds, Shmi reunites with Anakin. Anakin loses his temper and kills the Tuskens before returning to the Lars homestead with Shmi’s remains. After revealing his deed to Padmé, Anakin says that he wants to prevent death.
MV5BMjEyNTg4NjI2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTM4Nzg1OQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_On Geonosis, Obi-Wan discovers a Separatist gathering led by Count Dooku, who Obi-Wan learns had authorized Padmé’s assassination and is developing a new battle droid army together with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray. Obi-Wan transmits his findings to Anakin to relay to the Jedi Council, but is captured mid-transmission. With knowledge of the droid army, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is voted emergency powers to send the clones into battle. Anakin and Padmé journey to Geonosis to rescue Obi-Wan, but are also captured. The three are sentenced to death, but are eventually saved by a battalion of Jedi and clone troopers led by Mace Windu and Yoda; Jango is killed by Mace during the rescue. As the clone and droid armies battle, Obi-Wan and Anakin intercept Dooku and the three engage in a lightsaber battle. Dooku subdues Obi-Wan and Anakin, but then Yoda arrives and engages the Count in a duel. Finding he is unable to defeat Yoda, Dooku flees. Arriving at Coruscant, he delivers blueprints for a superweapon to his Sith master, Darth Sidious, who confirms that everything is going well and as planned. As the Jedi gravely acknowledge the beginning of the Clone Wars, Anakin is fitted with a robotic arm and secretly marries Padmé on Naboo, with C-3PO and R2-D2 as their witnesses.MV5BMjIwNjIxNzg4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDQwNTI4NA@@._V1_Attack of the Clones is a very good entry in the series. Ewan McGregor is superb as Obi Wan who teams up with Anakin to protect the Queen. He also has his own sub plot as he hunts down Jango Fett on a mysterious planet and we get a nice back story involving one of the coolest characters ever in Star Wars, Boba Fett. The action scenes are superb and towards the end we are introduced to Coutn Dooku, Christopher Lee who gives a superb performance. Yoda appears and fights as you’ve never seen him before and Jar Jar Binks time on screen is very limited. This movie is one hell of an underrated ride.

REVIEW: THE BANKER

Samuel L. Jackson, Nia Long, Nicholas Hoult, and Anthony Mackie in The Banker (2020)

Starring

Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Infinity War)
Nicholas Hoult (Dark Phoenix)
Nia Long (47 Meters Down: Uncaged)
Scott Daniel Johnson (Raising Dion)
Taylor Black (Dynasty)
Michael Harney (A Star Is Born)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek: DS9)
Paul Ben-Victor (Daredevil)
Jessie Usher (Sgaft)
Gregory Alan Williams (Brightburn)
Rhoda Griffis (Runaway Jury)

 

Samuel L. Jackson, Nia Long, Nicholas Hoult, and Anthony Mackie in The Banker (2020)Though an original idea in film certainly helps grow the medium out of the sequel/remake doldrums, not every movie has to break new ground in the way it tells its story. Sometimes traditional, A-B-C storytelling about something interesting and/or truthful can still inspire those who are watching. And inspiration, not innovation, is AppleTV+’s The Banker’s primary goal.Directed by Goerge Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau) with considerable confidence (aided, no doubt, by Apple’s limitless checkbook), The Banker aims to not only transport the audience to another time but teach them a lesson as well. The tried-and-true traditional storytelling techniques thus make it more of a fun, expected ride rather than a preachy history lesson.The Banker centers around Bernard Garrett played with stoic seriousness by the usual live-wire Anthony Mackie. Garrett is a mathematical genius with the will and desire to apply said genius to the real estate world. There is only one problem: it’s the 1950s in America and Garrett is black. Even in Los Angeles, away from his rundown, segregated hometown in Texas, Garrett experiences the ingrained racism the United States has to offer. Even in his most brilliant suits and despite his calm, academic demeanor, buying white properties in LA becomes an endless battle. But after teaming up with the enigmatic Joe Morris (Samuel L Jackson), a successful black businessman who owns dozens of properties, Garrett decides to use white family friend and mathematical novice Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) to be the public figurehead for business deals in LA, with Morris and Garrett acting as silent partners so the white residents of their buildings don’t know any different. It leads to a decade of successful real estate purchases in which Garrett and Morris become co-owners of hundreds of buildings in white-only areas, including the tallest commercial building in LA.But when Garrett wants to move back to Texas to help the black community acquire property, they realize the only way to successfully infiltrate the much more racist market is to own a bank. Thus Garrett and Morris’ clever scheme of using Steiner as a front for their business dealings takes on new challenges. For real estate is a cinch for Garrett and Morris but what do they know of banking? With everyone from local bigots to the federal government swirling around potential bank deals, Garrett is about to come across the biggest challenge of his life. As mentioned before, The Banker doesn’t break any new ground when it comes to presentation. It tells a very straightforward story and allows the cast to do the heavy lifting. Mackie is particularly good playing against type. Most popular as the wise-cracking sidekick to Captain America, Mackie’s somewhat forgotten dramatic chops get a refresher course as his straight man routine carries the film. Garrett’s no-nonsense nature and simmering passion is what gives the film its dramatic core. But it is also his quiet confidence that keeps the film measured; there is no room for melodrama here.z3t2cwzm1m341Mackie playing against type allows Samuel L Jackson to be more like himself as the charismatic foil to Garrett. Jackson, now in his 70s, is still as engaging and exciting to watch as ever and his cool guy routine isn’t out of place in this serious drama. Backing up the two leads is the always likable Nicholas Hoult as real estate/banking rookie Steiner and Nia Long as Garrett’s wife Eunice, who stands by her man with pride and fortitude, sometimes steering the action herself. Effortlessly transporting the audience to ’50s/’60s California and Texas, Apple’s considerable funds allow for the production design and costume design to perform a total transformation of the physical setting. Though their might be a little too much polish to make this feel like a lived-in environment, the seduction of shots of full city streets with period-specific cars and top of the line suits and dresses makes for engaging, if not beautiful, cinema.OIg1ybNRegardless of how it looks though, The Banker relies on what it says about our culture to carry the day and the film succeeds in speaking truth to power. Not only is the story inspiring for what occurred in the past, but it can serve as an example of how to move forward as well. In today’s society, where tribalism is becoming more and more acute and politics so polarizing, the dehumanization of entire groups can become all too real. The Banker shows that it isn’t the color of our skin or the money in our pockets that drives us but our own internal passion and industriousness. With brainpower and positivity comes results and, as Variety reported, the filmmakers “stand by the film and “its positive message of empowerment”.”5cnDFp6It is that dedication to empowerment that allows superb casting and production design to simply stand as icing on the cake. The Banker looks good but it feels good too. And upon its release, you should go out and watch it.

REVIEW: QT8: THE FIRST EIGHT

21 Years: Quentin Tarantino (2019)

Featuring

Samuel L. Jackson (Spider-Man: Far From Home)
Tim Roth (Lie To Me)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful eight)
Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds)
Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Jamie Foxx (Django Ucnhained)
Lucy Liu (Kill BIll)
Bruce Dern (hHe Hole)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
Zoë Bell (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Eli Roth (Death Proof)
Michael Madsen (Sin City)

Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs (1992)Quentin Tarantino has been praised as the cinematic “voice of his generation.” His influence on other filmmakers is as obvious as those who have influenced him. This is a celebration of Tarantino the filmmaker, and also somewhat of a response to his critics. Tara Wood’s documentary never hides that she’s a fan, and to her credit, she hits head-on the 3 controversies associated with her subject: the use of the “N-word”, Uma Thurman’s stunt car accident while filming KILL BILL, and his friendship and business relationship with the despicable Harvey Weinstein.Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (1994)Tarantino has publically stated that he will retire from filmmaking after directing his 10th film. Ms. Wood’s film covers his first eight, from RESEVOIR DOGS in 1992 to THE HATEFUL EIGHT in 2015. Because this documentary was tied up and delayed in the Miramax quagmire, there is also a brief mention of Tarantino’s 9th film ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, released this year. The film kicks off with some background information from Producer Stacey Sher, mentions of his writing for TRUE ROMANCE and NATURAL BORN KILLERS, and a fascinating tidbit involving how QT used his pay from appearing as an Elvis impersonator on “The Golden Girls” to initially fund his career in filmmaking.Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)Ms. Wood then divides her film into three chapters, thereby categorizing and providing insight on each. “Chapter 1 – The Revolution” includes RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION, both ground-breakers in their own way and they announced “an astonishing new voice” in movies. The best behind-the-scenes bit comes courtesy of actor and Tarantino regular Michael Madsen who initially objected to being Mr. Blonde, complaining “I didn’t want to get killed by Tim Roth.” Of course, it was PULP FICTION that elevated Tarantino to a new stratosphere – oh, and it also allowed for the stunning comeback of John Travolta.Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)“Chapter 2 – Badass Women and Genre Play” covers JACKIE BROWN, KILL BILL and DEATH PROOF. The first of those films, each which featured very strong women, was an ode to the Blaxploitation era, the second was influenced by Hong Kong cinema, and the third is described by Zoe Bell as Tarantino’s ‘thank you’ to industry stunt people. Perhaps the most important element of this chapter was that, despite the affirmations, he refused to serve up a repeat PULP FICTION … yet another thing that set him apart from other filmmakers.Michael Fassbender and Diane Kruger in Inglourious Basterds (2009)“Chapter 3 – Justice” finishes up the catalog with INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, DJANGO UNCHAINED, and THE HATEFUL EIGHT. ‘Basterds’ is renowned for what may be the most fascinating opening sequence in any movie, ‘Django’ shows his love of westerns (especially Italian), and ‘Hateful 8’ stands as a ‘western RESERVOIR DOGS’. With his many references to earlier cinema, Tarantino shows no hesitancy in spinning or changing history to fit his story. While many disparaged the infamous Hitler scene in ‘Basterds’ (and subsequently the Manson killings in his latest), Tarantino firmly believes that viewers know they are watching a movie, and can easily separate this from real life and historical fact. It’s noted that this is what story telling is all about … asking ‘What if?”Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained (2012)Many of Tarantino’s collaborators offer insight and memories. Those appearing include: Samuel L Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Kurt Russell, Michael Madsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Diane Kruger, Lucy Liu, Bruce Dern, Jamie Foxx, the late Robert Forster, Tim Roth, Eli Roth, and Lawrence Bender. Most obvious in their absence are Uma Thurman, Pam Grier, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, and Tarantino himself. There is also a nice segment included as a tribute to the late Sally Menke, Tarantino’s long-time film editor.Quentin Tarantino has been described as an overzealous geek with the talent to back it up. In reality, he’s a walking and (fast) talking encyclopedia of movie knowledge, trivia and history. He is also described as creating an exuberant infection with cinema, and his frequent scenes of ultra-violence are interpreted by Christoph Waltz as “opera”. It was October 5, 2017 when the Harvey Weinstein story broke, and immediately, since many films connect them, Tarantino was part of the story. It’s a blight on his record, just as it is for countless other actors, celebrities and film industry types who knew and chose to stay silent. But when it comes to making movies, few have ever done it better. There is an on-set clip where Tarantino says “One more take. Why? Because we love making movies!” It’s clear from the interviews here that QT reveres making movies. He also loves watching movies – so much so that he bought and renovated the New Beverly Cinema. He’s a proud film geek. Ms. Wood’s film is pure pleasure for QT fans and will explain a lot for those who aren’t so sure about his work.

 

REVIEW: THE SPIRIT

CAST

Gabriel Macht (S.W.A.T.: Firefight)
Scarlett Johanson (Lucy)
Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story)
Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years)
Stana Katic (Castle)
Louis Lombardi (Natural Born Killers)
Jaime King (My Bloody Valentine)
Paz Vega (Burning Palms)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Johnny Simmons (Boogeyman 2)
Seychelle Gabriel (Honey 2)
Michael Milhoan (That 70s Show)

MV5BNjE2Mjc3ODQ0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODE1NDYyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1490,1000_AL_In a cat-filled mausoleum in Central City, Denny Colt, also known as The Spirit, receives a call from Detective Sussman about a major case that could involve the Spirit’s arch-nemesis, The Octopus. The Spirit dons his costume and travels across rooftops while delivering a voice-over soliloquy about the city being his one true love. A woman (Kimberly Cox) is being mugged in an alley below. He manages to save her, receiving a knife wound that he barely seems to notice. The woman asks, “What are you?”, with an arriving officer answering, “That’s The Spirit”. The Spirit runs away, catching a ride from Officer Liebowitz and heading toward the flats.
MV5BMTU0NzYyMjEyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDg3NjQwMg@@._V1_At the swampland, femme fatale Sand Saref rises from the water and appears to shoot Sussman multiple times. The Spirit and Liebowitz find the wounded Sussman, but a flashback reveals that it was really the Octopus who shot him in an effort to recover two identical chests underwater. Sand and her husband Mahmoud tried to flee with both chests, but the Octopus wounded Mahmoud and snapped a line connecting the two chests. Sand escaped, leaving one chest behind, which the Octopus retrieved from the murky depths.
MV5BNjkxNjU0ODU2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjI1NDYyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1510,1000_AL_After the Octopus kills Liebowitz, he sends away his cloned henchmen, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, to take on the Spirit alone. His accomplice Silken Floss drives up, running over Pathos in the process. She departs with the cargo as the two arch-nemeses fight. Cutting to the next morning, The Spirit is awakened by his lover Dr. Ellen Dolan, daughter of the Police Commissioner. Appearing to be in perfect health despite his gunshot wounds, the Spirit is shocked to notice a gold locket in Sussman’s hand; a piece torn from Sand Saref’s neck earlier.
MV5BMTk4MTA3MjE1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzc3NjQwMg@@._V1_Saref’s locket contains pictures of a much-younger Denny Colt and Sand; the two grew up together in Central City where Denny bought Sand the locket as a gift to satisfy her love of “shiny things”. They lived happily until Sand’s father, a police officer, was shot dead by a criminal with whom Colt’s uncle was involved. Sand, now disenchanted with the city and its corruption, fled to Europe and has not been heard from for fifteen years. In a secret lair, the Octopus and Silken Floss open their stolen chest, but discover that it does not contain the mysterious Blood of Heracles as expected but the Golden Fleece, and decide a trade is in order.
MV5BMTMwOTU0ODQwN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDM2NjAxNQ@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,998_AL_Sand and Mahmoud visit the office of a high-class fence named Donenfeld, whom Sand paid to locate the underwater treasure. It is implied that Donenfeld gave up the treasure’s location to the Octopus to ensure his family’s safety. At Alice’s Hospital, the Spirit has fully regenerated and is as good as new; Commissioner Dolan angrily enters with young rookie cop Morgenstern and calls the Spirit away to a case.
MV5BMTgxMDAwMzg1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTg3NjQwMg@@._V1_Sand’s history as one of the world’s great jewel thieves is relayed to the Spirit. As the Spirit is about to arrest her, he is caught off-guard by her standing before him fully nude. Sand doesn’t recognize the Spirit as the presumed-dead Denny. She is stunned when he reveals his knowledge of her looking for the Golden Fleece and she shoves the Spirit through a window, only to see him survive the fall.
MV5BMTk5NTUzODMzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTkxNzMwMg@@._V1_After his run-in with Sand, the Spirit receives a tip on the location of the Octopus’s lair. In the process of breaking in he is captured and tied to a dentist’s chair. The Octopus reveals his own origin as well as how he and the Spirit became arch-enemies: Octopus and Floss’s experimentation have led to the creation of a serum (something of a scientific equivalent to the Elixir of Life) that could grant immortality. The Octopus first tested it on the dead body of the murdered officer Colt, who came back from the dead; his resurrection has earned the ire of Death, being the only man to ever wrongfully escape her clutches. Contacting Dolan, the only one aware of his true identity, he vowed to become the city’s protector, “her spirit”. Eventually, the Octopus injected himself and arch-enemies were born. However, the Octopus needs the blood of Heracles, a demi-god, to perfect the serum’s formula. The Spirit manages to escape by spontaneously seducing a belly-dancing female assassin named Plaster of Paris, who as a parting gift turns on The Octopus in favor of The Spirit’s charms.
MV5BMTgxMDAwMzg1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTg3NjQwMg@@._V1_Outside in an alley, The Spirit irks Paris by mentioning Sand’s name; she stabs him out of spite. After being unconscious for a period of time, the Spirit stumbles to the city docks and collapses into the cold water, where he confronts the ethereal Angel of Death, Lorelei Rox, who has haunted his sleep. While at first he is willing to finally give in to her embrace, he escapes her yet again when he manages to gather his senses by remembering Ellen, Sand, Floss, Paris, and the other women he claims to see in place of his life flashing before his eyes. As the Spirit swims to the surface, Lorelei vows that he will be hers eventually.
MV5BMjAwNjI3Nzc1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTAyNzMwMg@@._V1_At the projects, Sand and her latest henchman fly in with the Blood of Heracles to meet Floss and a clone carrying the Golden Fleece. After a four-way Mexican standoff, Sand attempts to convince Floss to get out of serving the Octopus before she is killed by the Octopus himself. The clone kills Sand’s henchman and the Octopus asks Floss for the vase. As the Spirit suddenly materializes, Floss drives off, unable to take a side. The Octopus unloads with progressively bigger guns on the Spirit, apparently killing him off, but Dolan’s SWAT team storms the area and opens fire right after. Morgenstern blows the Octopus’ arm up with a hand-cannon and Dolan shoots him several times on the head. To recover from the damage, the Octopus gets to the Blood of Heracles and prepares to drink it, but Sand shoots the vase just in time as the Spirit rises, having worn a bullet-proof vest. He then attaches a grenade to the Octopus’ chest, blowing him up into pieces with Sand protecting the two of them with the Golden Fleece.
MV5BMTgzOTM0MDY5M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQwNjIwMg@@._V1_Showdown over, the Spirit gives Sand her locket back. They kiss as Ellen looks on, feeling betrayed. The old flames bid each other goodbye and the Spirit convinces Dolan to let Sand go in gratitude for saving him and the world. Nearby, Floss discovers one of the Octopus’s severed fingers crawling towards her; she picks it up and departs with two of the clones saying, “We’ll start from scratch”. Meanwhile, the Spirit and Ellen make amends and embrace. The final shot shows the Spirit standing triumphant on a rooftop with his cat, looking over the city as the sun rises.MV5BMjEzMjU0MjUzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk1OTc0MTE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_This film is worth a watch, but don’t take it too seriously. It may have been made by the people that did Sin City and 300 but this film has it’s tongue firmly in cheek. It has some laugh out moments, and it looks fantastic, However, the story is weak and the characters undeveloped enough for me. Scarlett Johanson is amazing as usual, and as she states in the film – looks fantastic. Samuel L Jackson overacts throughout the film, as usual. It’s worth a watch, but not really worth watching twice in my opinion.